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Into The Deep - Crew Tips and Tricks


Torch and Shield is easily played in standalone bite sized games, two crews going head on in the dark or brothers in arms holding out till the lights flicker and wane. But where Torch and Shield really shines is in the linked scenarios, working your way through with friends (or foes), or solo, to clear the mountain-hold. Defeating the Hellion within, and claiming the title king under the mountain for yourself. How one prepares a crew and goes ahead in each of the three scenarios is crucial for their crew's success, for to fight the Hellion you will need to gather sufficient arms, experience and gold to fund the fights ahead.


This is the first of two posts which will give some detail and ideas to planning a crew to do just that, the second will outline the scenarios of and strategies on how to deal with them and the 'Into the Deep' Challenge of which the info in this post will be very helpful.


These handy tips on crew creation what we found useful when forming our own crews for the scenarios, provided to you help you on your way to glory. Of course the more you delve the more you will gain insight to improved and alternative plans of action that we have not foreseen. So delve deep and take a torch!


Arming Your Crew - lets science this!


Ensuring you have the right weapons for the right job is paramount to a successful delve! A crew must have a decent spread of weapons and equipment to be able to deal with the terrors of the deep.

Weapon composition will vary depending on your play style, crew and experience. But I shall give an overview of what I have found to be useful when playing, and what I have seen with the other clans during games.


'Reach Attacks' and ranged weapons

Having a good mix of ranged/reach and melee weapons is crucial. The main reason is, Dwarves activate before monsters, so if you can kill one in the Delving Phase, and then fight and kill one in the Fight Phase, you are doubling your fighter's killing potential.


Weapons such as Spears and Glaives have the ability to hit an enemy before they're able to close into combat with you with the Reach rule. Essential in managing a swarm before they get all over you, pinning you down in a prolonged melee. Of these two, in melee I prefer the Glaive as it also has the brutal rule to deal an additional damage when you successfully hit. Whilst spears imo are good for being more defensive in your equipment, give them a Shield or Greatshield to be a holding force whilst more aggressive dwarves swing around and hit the foe from the side or rear. (not to say you can't be aggressive with a good pointy spear mind you!)


As an Ironthane you don't get access to Gunpower weapons, but you do get to use crossbows. The Arbalest has a significant kick (without the risk of blowing up in your face on a blunder) being strength 5 and with brutal they can easily skewer large monsters. This is a weapon perfect for the Siegethane and other such ranged aficionados. The Siegethane is notable for having at game start the special action 'Supporting fire' - perfect for shooting through the frontline from safety.


If your running Copperbrows, their preference for gunpowder should be well used, dual wielding Pistols are great in a pinch for quick hip-shots. You could also pack three of them for even more gunslinging action (very effective). Or , if you need the biggest bang for your buck then adding at least one strength 6 musket with piercing is hard to turn down.


Out of the clans so far, Buldahr are the pariah in dedicated ranged attacks, but surely unique in their application. For they get the Hurler, a dwarf who is skilled in throwing spears (and consequently gets better with each spear thrown) and a clan wide ability to throw their weapons at the foe as an impromptu middle finger to those who would stay out of range of a good clubbing! (as no other clan are allowed to throw their weapons)


No matter what kind of range you have, be it 'Reach attacks' with melee weapons or dedicated ranged weapons, Having at least 1 or 2 options available to you is important, but the more the merrier. For the scenarios, especially the 3 Challenge delves, you can get unlucky draws on the event table, giving you a lot of monsters you will need to push past with little time to attrition them down before they overwhelm you.


Melee Weapons


For your melee and armour options, the choices are quiet varied and boils down to playstyle and clan availability. For example, you wont be doing any armour of note with the Buldahr as they forgo armour (bar shields) which consequently makes it cheaper to create a larger crew than most other dwarf clans, allowing you to be very aggressive with weapon purchases. Some war mattocks and axes are good for bringing down armoured foes, whilst a good maul/warhammer will give your unarmoured brothers a good support dwarf who can push his foe around with the Bludgeoning rule, opening up avenues of attack (or throwing them into the abyss). Alternatively, paired weapons are extremely strong, especially with a clan like Buldahr as since they can't take armour why not just dual wield the same weapon and get 'exploding dice' for your attacks.



this is particually effective with melee specialists such as bloodthanes and Weaponthanes, who already have a high number of dice they're throwing at a target. Excellent swarm removal service!

If running Ironthanes, my experience with them is armoured up and armed to the teeth. you wont be running many Clansmen and Shortbeards in your crew but every dwarf will be very well equipped to deal with most issues. Your biggest challenge with a heavily equipped Ironthane clan (or any clan really) is limited action economy. You will be taking hits more than you will be throwing (particularly when faced with a swarm of... well Swarm type monsters). But all that good dwarven steel should keep your head on its shoulders!


Armour

Now I have mentioned armour throughout this little expose, but what about it? each armour has different effects, and many can be stacked on top of each other for compounding defence! But what are good armour and shields to take? It really depends like with the weapons, what your playstyle is. What you are looking to get out of your dwarves and what challenges you expect them to face.


Obviously (I would sincerely hope) you don't want your crew to meet an untimely end, so the easiest option for armour if your running short on coins are Shields. Shields are a cheap and supremely useful tool to defend (and attack) in the dark. Currently there are 2 Shield types, the 'Shield' and the 'Great Shield', there are many benefits of a Shield, but first and foremost I would say is the ability to defend against Reach/Ranged attacks. As normally you do not get to defend against such attacks, this allows you that one (two with the Great Shield) chance(s) to protect against each hit caused by your foe.

Furthermore, it allows you to automatically pass the test to Barge an opponent without having to roll, excellent for any chasms or traps you want to nudge them into ;) the downsides? you cannot use two handed only weapons with it, so no dropping the hammer of a Maul down on some Shortbeards head. And if using the Great Shield, it confers the 'Cumbersome' trait to you, reducing your already fast as a snail dwarves down -1 agility.


For those who have the Rulebook, this is the 'Three Hands Rule' on pg57, in short it means that your Dwarf can only hold 3 hands worth of equipment at one time (and use 2 hands at one time) so a one hand sword and one hand shield is valid, but a two hand maul and a one hand shield is no go!

Armour also encompasses worn pieces, of which a few can be layered onto each other for cumulative effects. Hardcoat, Mail and Breastplates can be combined in 2 Armour configurations, so Either Hardcoat + mail, or Hardcoat + Breastplate, or Breastplate + Mail etc. These three Armours are cheap but very effective in giving your Dwarves that little longer to survive the Monster Swarms. Mail increases your resilience against any hits by +1, Breastplate ignores the second successful damage after the initial. A great choice for when you get hit by Mindless Hulks or Labyrinth Beast monsters who have Brutal.


By Having these two examples combined you can create quite a beast of a Dwarf who will be able to hold his own in the depths. If you're able to splurge a little cash and clan rules allow it, (Reminder that Buldahr cannot equip any Armour except for Shields) you can get the heaviest Armour available, Plate Mail and Full Plate for an important Crew member (I gave my Leader Platemail and a Broadsword) to give them the best chance of surviving, as well as being a force of nature to be reckoned with!


Equipment

Dwarves can take numerous types of equipment into the deep, ranging from the mundane to the...explosive (literally). Most are fairly cheap as well to slot in when you have a few gold left over from crew creation, or you secured some mid-battle. But what to take and what to forgo is as important as what armour and weapons you should take. Before anything else is thought of, even armour and weapons. Is to decide how many Torches/Lanterns you will want. I found having 3 is a safe choice for a 5-6 Dwarf Ironthane Crew. Because you have to take into account the 'Three Hand Rule' mentioned prior, take too many two handed weapons and shields and you will be running in the dark with limited manoeuvrability. Too far the other direction and you will be wanting for the good equipment such as heavier weapons in a hard fight.


Which is better though, Torches or Lanterns? I erred on 2 torches and 1 lantern, the reasoning was that torches are, cheaper and more durable than lanterns in that they won't explode in your face when you blunder a throw with them (yes you can throw your Light Source...not recommended though, especially in the 'Into the Deep' Challenge). Conversely, the Lantern is to have a longer lasting Light Source when you run the Fuel Counter to zero, for it will keep burning on all bar a 1 on a d6, whilst torches will flicker out on a 1 or a 2.


Equipment such as Stonesalve and Tinderbox are a good choice for keeping you in the fight and keeping the lights burning that little longer. The ability to heal a lost wound, thus reducing the negative you have from reduced resilience is crucial in a skirmish (especially if it is one of your key fighters such as a Bloodthane or Weaponthane who has fallen on hard times!).

The Tinderbox just makes the chance of failing lighting braziers or campfires much less with +2 to the craft roll, excellent if you're in the dark when attempting this, which gives you -1 to the roll.


And finally, I find ensuring you have at least one Master Brew in your crew is very useful. Each Brew gives different temporary buffs and bonuses that can turn the tide or keep you in the fight, I highly recommend Blackpowder Brew. As it will make your Ranged/Reach focused Dwarves (especially some gunpowder armed fellows) ever more dangerous by giving them an additional dice to roll on the reach/ranged attack. Good for when a Brute or larger beast such as the Hellion is on the field to chip some damage or get the killing blow.


A good alternative to take, or to take in conjunction with, is Kunnock Best. For a martial clan such as the Buldahr who have no armour, and thus money to throw at strength adding weapons (Great Axe, Two-Handed Swords etc give +2). This Brew will add +2 to your Strength during the Dwarfs activation, which means your getting +4 at least added to your Dwarves Strength if you use weapons with the 'Great' trait (which on their own give +2). These weapons on their own are crucial in taking down big monsters and the Hellion quickly, if you can land a hit on them!




Arming your Crew - In Practice!

What does all this mean? what is the Short and sweet of this overview?


  1. Buy weapons that can deal with the myriad of swarming monsters and their resilient brute cousins (multi-wounds for the big guys and the Hellion!), options to breakup a static front and get movement happening is also key.

  2. Ensure you have plenty of light spread between your crew, you do not want the dark to swallow your crew (It can happen).

  3. Take armour and equipment to reduce attrition in the campaign, spending more earlier on good equipment will keep your guys alive longer (maybe even leveling up, more on that in the scenario brief). Thus ensuring you have more dwarves available for the final challenge.


Delve Deep

Hopefully these suggestions will get you well on your way to successfully delving into the Dwarven holds, next we will run over the Scenarios and how to deal with the beasties within and get to the 'Into the Deep' Challenge.


With a good crew and sound equipment this should see you into that dark hold, and if not? Well there is always another motley crew of Dwarves eager to find their fortune in the deep.


Delve Deep and take a torch, we are going in!

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